Gluten Free Upside Down Lemon Meringue Tarts Recipe
When I was a young girl, my father was an attaché to the U. S. Ambassador in the Philippines. We lived in an Embassy Compound in Manila and, as was typical, we were given a household staff. One young woman who worked for us was named Maria and we loved her. We loved her so much my father arranged to have her and her mother move back to the States with us and was to be their sponsor for U.S. citizenship.
Maria used to make us Lemon Meringue pies which we loved almost as much as we loved her. We called them Lemon Maria Pies.
In the end, Maria’s mother did not want to leave Manila and Maria did not want to leave her mother so she stayed in the Philippines. To this day I can’t look at a Lemon Meringue Pie without thinking fondly of Maria.
My Gluten Free Upside Down Lemon Meringue Tarts Recipe is an example of thinking outside the box in relation to cooking gluten free. Yes, I could make gluten free pie crust and prepare a perfectly acceptable treat. But going with my philosophy of embracing the abundance of gluten free life instead of looking for substitutions I came up with more than an acceptable knock off. This is a real original. Crispy meringue shells filled with tangy lemon curd and topped with crunchy sweet candied almonds.
Nothing in this recipe is hard to make but time is involved. The meringues need two hours in the oven and everything needs to cool before assembly. However, all elements can be made ahead and the tarts assembled later. Don’t do the final assembly until just before serving or the meringues will get soft. The assembly, however, only takes a couple minutes.
- 4 egg whites
- 1 pinch salt
- ¾ cups sugar
- 1 cup sliced almonds
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 egg white , lightly whisked with a fork
- 4 egg yolks
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup strained fresh lemon juice (approx. 3 lemons)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
- 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel (approx. 3 lemons)
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Beat egg whites and salt on high speed in a mixer until they are foamy and have tripled in volume. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until egg whites are very white, glossy and form stiff peaks. Rub a bit of the egg white mixture between your thumb and forefinger to test if all the sugar has been dissolved. If it feels grainy, then whip them a little longer. The mixture should feel smooth.
Take a piece of parchment paper large enough to cover a flat baking sheet and flip it over. Trace six 3 ½” to 4” circles in pencil on the back side. Flip parchment back over and you should be able to see the circle though the paper. Spoon 1/6th of the mixture onto each circle. With the back of a large spoon push the mixture to fill circles and form an indentation in the middle of each circle.
Bake meringues in the oven for 1 hour and then turn the heat off leaving the meringues in the oven to dry out for another hour. Let them cool completely and peel off the parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine almonds, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add egg whites and stir well to dissolve sugar and completely coat nuts. Transfer mixture to a baking sheet lined with buttered parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Spread mixture into an even layer.
Bake for 15 minutes or until nuts are toasty brown. Let cool and then break nuts up into pieces. Can be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container.
Place egg yolks, salt, sugar and lemon juice in a heavy, medium-sized saucepan. Whisk together. Cook over lowest heat stirring constantly with a spoon until the mixture is thick and heavily coats the back of the spoon - about 10 minutes. Take off heat and stir in butter until completely melted.
Pour mixture through a strainer into a glass or ceramic bowl. Stir in the lemon peel. Place a piece of cling wrap on the curd to prevent a skin from forming and put in refrigerator to cool completely. Can be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator.
To assemble - spoon 1/6th of the lemon curd into each meringue and top with nuts. You will probably have some nuts left over but they are great to munch on or add to salads.
Since this recipe uses eggs and sugar throughout, I suggest using high-quality ingredients for those, like pasture-raised eggs (I use Nature's Yoke) and organic, ethically-sourced sugar. And of course, use real, fresh lemon juice!
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